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Related to liquidated damages: Unliquidated damages
Damages agreed upon in advance by contracting parties.The parties will recite that if one or the other breaches the contract, it will be difficult to determine damages at that time.This is often true in situations where construction is delayed and a business cannot open on time or homeowners cannot take possession of their home when anticipated. Liquidated damages are used in a wide variety of cases, though, not just construction contracts.The parties will agree to an amount of damages, or a method of calculating damages, such as a certain amount per day. Most real estate sale contracts stipulate the earnest money deposit as the amount of liquidated damages.The catch with this system is that courts will not enforce penalties, which are illegal.If the liquidated damages do not bear some relationship to reality and the probable damages suffered by the innocent party, then courts will recharacterize them as penalties (completely unenforceable) or will reduce them to an amount deemed reasonable under the circumstances.